Yes, Your Cereal Boxes and Ice Cream Containers Are Getting Smaller
Your mind is not playing tricks on you. It's called "shrinkflation."
You may have noticed that you're running through things like cereal and ice cream faster than normal. No, it's not that you're snacking more than you usually do—not necessarily, anyway—it's that some companies are making cereal boxes and ice cream containers smaller these days.
Blame shrinkflation, a process used by brands and stores to rake in the same amount of cash for a smaller product, according to CNN. It's not a new concept. CNN reports that companies have been doing this for decades, but usually do so when their own costs go up and they need to make up for it. Currently, you can blame it on the inflation we're seeing.
The reason shrinkflation is so popular with brands is that their customers usually don't notice. At least at first. Shoppers do notice know when prices rise, and tend to cut back on buying (as well as get angry), when it happens.
"Consumers are price-conscious. They will notice if an orange juice manufacturer, for example, raises the shelf price from $2.99 to $3.19," Edgar Dworsky, a former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts and consumer advocate at ConsumerWorld.org, told the outlet. "If the manufacturer makes the carton of orange juice several ounces less in each carton, they know consumers may not catch it. And that's because consumers are not net weight conscious."
Per CNN, products like Cocoa Puffs's family size boxes and regular-sized Cinnamon Toast Crunch have been affected by shrinkflation. Similarly, Tillamook just announced that it's reducing its family-size ice cream container from 56 ounces to 48 ounces. While that's still a lot of ice cream, customers will be missing a cone or two. The size decrease, which Tillamook called adjusting its "price-pack architecture," was chalked up to higher costs for ingredients like berries.
Snacks aren't the only products affected by shrinkflation. It happens with things like toilet paper too. While most people don't notice when it happens, Dworsky aims to make consumers more aware of this practice. On his website, he shares photos of normal-sized products alongside products that have been hit by shrinkflation. He does so with a little help from consumers with a keen eye.
You should probably keep an eye on it. According to CNN, some consumer goods analysts expect that it's only going to get worse. The producer price index reportedly rose 7.3% in June 2021 from the previous year—the largest rise since the government started tracking the data back in November 2010.